Sensitivity of patients with painful temporomandibular disorders to experimentally evoked pain

William Maixner, Roger Fillingim, Donna Booker, Asgeir Sigurdsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) represent a group of chronic painful conditions involving the muscles of mastication and the temporomandibular joint. We determined whether patients with painful TMD are more sensitive to noxious stimuli than age-matched control subjects. Fifty-two TMD patients (16 with muscle pain and 36 with combined muscle and joint pain) and 23 age-matched and gender-matched volunteers participated. Forearm thermal pain threshold and tolerance values were determined. A submaximal effort tourniquet procedure was used to evoke ischemic muscle pain. Relative to control subjects, TMD patients had significantly lower thermal pain threshold, ischemic pain threshold, and ischemic pain tolerance values; and thermal pain tolerance values also tended to be lower. Pain sensitivity did not differ between the two groups of TMD patients. Furthermore, the submaximal effort tourniquet procedure, which is capable of altering acute orofacial pain (Sigurdsson and Maixner, 1994) did not produce a consistent reduction in orofacial pain associated with TMD. We concluded that TMD patients are more sensitive to noxious stimuli than pain-free controls. These findings provide additional evidence that TMD is a psychophysiological disorder of the central nervous system which modulates emotional, physiological and neuroendocrine responses to emotional and physical stressors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)341-351
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1995


  • Myofascial pain
  • Pain sensitivity
  • Temporomandibular disorder
  • Temporomandibular joint disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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